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Beekman Tower Hotel

3 Mitchell Place

Northeast corner at First Avenue & 49th Street

Beekman Tower Hotel

Beekman Tower Hotel, view from the northwest


By Carter B. Horsley

This orange-brown-brick tower is one of the city's great Art-Deco skyscrapers, albeit relatively modest in height, and it is also notable for having a rooftop public cocktail lounge with views in all directions and some open terraces.

It was designed by John Mead Howell as the Panhellic Tower in 1928, a 23-story structure with 380 bedrooms.

View from the southwest

View from the southwest

In their superb book, "New York 1930, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Two World Wars," (Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1987), Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins noted that "its brilliant design made it, like the Shelton [see The City Review article], an instant landmark."

"Howell's tower seemed to rise in one unbroken leap from a three-story base containing restaurants and become one of the city's most spectacular images of unbridled vertical force....The Panhellic Tower was intended to function as an apartment hotel and clubhouse for women college graduates. The sleek simplicity of the massing, with windows recessed between unbroken piers to make it seem from most angles more a solid mass than a hollow container, distinguished Howell's design as the next dramatic step toward astylar skyscraper composition, a step that not only marked an advance over the Shelton but also over Howells & Hood's Chicago Tribune Tower and Hood's American Radiator Building. While the individual rooms were decorated in a rather dull, early American manner, the snappily decorated public rooms were notable. In the lounge at the top of the tower, dark tones and sinuous patterns on the walls helped obscure the awwardness of the room's shape, while pendant light fixtures, waving fronds of metal foliage applied around the metal elevator door, tall lancet windows, and French-influenced furniture gave the room a welcome note of romantic mystery."

Panhellic referred to Greek letter societies and/or sororities.

Top of the Tower

Cocktail lounge at the top of the tower

When the property became the Beekman Tower Hotel, the terraces of the rooftop lounge was partially enclosed in skylights. The skylights altered the purity of the original design, but not too seriously as they do not detract from the building's great verticality. The room is much smaller and more intimate than the famous Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Center (see The City Review article), but much more pleasant and with very, very good views, a rarity for the public.

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